Mack Trucks is a powerhouse brand, with trucks bearing its bulldog hood ornament ever-present on construction sites and trash routes across North America. Out on the highway, though, Mack now holds less than 2% of the market for long-haul trucks—a position it intends to improve with the recent launch of the Mack Anthem, its first totally redesigned highway tractor in more than a decade. In rolling out the Mack Anthem, the company is grabbing the attention of customers, drivers, and dealers with a digital marketing campaign that is as bold and efficient as the sleek new big rig.
Mack’s integration of modern social, email, and website tools was a big step for the 118-year-old American manufacturing icon, for which print ads, glossy brochures, and trade shows were the marketing vehicles of choice only four or five years ago. Those channels provided very little opportunity for Mack to craft different messages for its different customer segments, such as fleet managers and owner-operators, who might prioritize various elements of a truck differently. Mack still uses those analog channels, but it shifted into a higher gear for the Anthem launch with a digital campaign that emphasizes metrics over mindshare.
“It allows us to be more targeted, more efficient, and able to measure our activities in a far more effective way,” says John Walsh, Mack vice president of marketing, in an interview at the company’s customer center in Allentown, just miles from the Lower Macungie, Pennsylvania, factory that will build the new Anthem trucks. “In general, whoever has the best data and does the best job with it is going to win.”
Country Music, VR, and More
Among the Mack marketing team’s digital initiatives for the Anthem launch:
• It produced a series of gated YouTube videos, released biweekly starting in early July, that built excitement for the forthcoming new highway model, culminating in a live stream of the Mack Anthem unveiling on YouTube and Facebook on Sept. 13, 2017. In all, Mack collected about 7,000 email addresses from the teaser campaign, and 3,700 people logged into the live stream of the launch event—significant numbers for a product that costs more than $100,000.
• The marketing team launched a comprehensive social media campaign, pointing Mack’s Twitter followers (now more than 23,000), Facebook followers (170,000-plus), LinkedIn followers (more than 15,000), YouTube subscribers (in excess of 13,000), and its other social communities to videos, photos, text summaries, and other content on every aspect of the new truck line. From the start of the Mack Anthem tease campaign in July through the launch of the product in September, the brand pulled in more than 40,000 new social followers.
Mack uses Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud Service and Oracle Social Cloud to connect social activity with the 175,000 profiles in its Eloqua database, so it knows if a person clicked on, say, a Facebook post to view an Anthem-related video and then later downloaded a white paper or looked for other information on MackTrucks.com. Using Oracle Social Cloud, team members also receive an alert when Mack Anthem is mentioned on various social sites, so that they can respond where necessary.
• The Mack marketing team distributed virtual reality viewers to potential customers, letting them take a VR tour inside the Anthem truck. Registrants requesting the viewers on MackTrucks.com’s Anthem landing page are required to provide their first and last name, company name, job title, email address and phone number. The marketing team then uses its Oracle Eloqua system’s lead-scoring model to qualify each individual.
That scoring is based partly on each individual’s tagged engagement with other high-value content on Mack’s website, as well as an estimate of each person’s purchasing authority given his or her job role. “It’s all of those indicators that say, yeah, this guy’s interested in this truck, not someone who just wants to see what’s new from Mack and then is gone,” says Neil Tolbert, director of marketing communications.
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The marketing team still does part of that scoring manually, Tolbert says, pulling up the website of a qualified lead to see if the individual works for a current Mack customer or is a “conquest” opportunity to take business from a rival. As part of that due diligence, the team also looks at the size of the individual’s employer—owner-operator of a single truck all the way up to a national fleet such as ABF Freight or UPS.
• Mack partnered with celebrity influencers. For example, the company’s marketing team enlisted country music artist Steve Moakler to record a road song for the Anthem launch, titled “Born Ready” and dedicated to drivers. More than 55,000 people have watched Moakler’s performance of the song on YouTube. The marketing team also produced a YouTube video with the Oakland Raiders’ Khalil Mack, the National Football League’s 2016/17 Defensive Player of the Year, on “What Makes a Mack.” More than 75,000 people have watched that video.
More than 9,300 people have opted in to some aspect of the Mack Anthem campaign (including 2,100 for the VR viewers), generating about 1,700 qualified leads, the company says.
At the center of the campaign is the comprehensive Anthem landing page. There, customers and prospects not only can sign up for a VR viewer and watch the Moakler video, but they can also consume information on every aspect of the new truck line, from its fuel efficiency and easy maintenance to its driver-friendly dashboard and cab design (more on those attributes and features below). That landing page has drawn more than 146,000 visits so far.
Also central to the Anthem digital marketing campaign is Mack’s Oracle Eloqua database of 175,000 customers and prospects. Explains Walsh: “We build profiles on all 175,000 of those folks, engage with them over time with compelling, personalized content, move them further and further through the sales funnel, through the consideration process, and continue to engage with them until they finally raise their hand and say, ‘I want to talk with a Mack dealer.’ At which point we consider them a qualified lead and hand them off to the appropriate Mack dealer.”
In the days of analog-only marketing, he notes, that customer or prospect probably would have started with a sales rep at one of the 380 independently owned Mack dealer locations in North America, which account for about 90% of the company’s global sales. “The customer might have walked in the door and said, ‘Hey, tell me what you guys have to offer.’” Walsh says. “Today when customers come through the door, through the magic of digital they have self-educated themselves to a far greater degree. They’re very knowledgeable when they walk in, not only about what we offer, but also about what the competition offers.”
That education goes both ways. For example, if a potential customer’s activity on MackTrucks.com indicates he’s interested in learning more about Anthem’s mDRIVE automated manual transmission or the truck’s ample sleeping quarters, a dealer sales rep will have that information at his or her fingertips in order to have a more informed conversation with the prospect in the showroom. “I love that, that we’re able to be that personal now,” Walsh says. “It’s part of the DNA of our brand.”
Mack’s marketing team is partnering more closely with dealers, not only sharing leads but also digital best practices, to the point where dealers are now hiring their own marketing managers. Mack has set up a marketing sub-council with select dealer principals, to get their feedback and buy-in on all of its marketing activities, he says.
The introduction of the Anthem represents a big step forward for Mack, which launched its last major new highway product, the Mack Pinnacle, back in 2005. The North American market leader in construction and refuse trucks, Mack is intent on building its share of the long-haul market, which accounts for about half of Class 8 truck sales. “Anthem is opening doors on the highway side of the business that have been closed to us for years,” Walsh says.
As evidence that Mack, a unit of the Volvo Group, intends to be a major player in that market, it invested more than $84 million to overhaul the Lower Macungie factory where it builds the Mack Anthem and all its other trucks for North America and export. The Anthem is available as of January 2018 in three configurations: a 70-inch “stand up” sleeper (a driver well over 6-feet tall can stand at the wheel and walk back to the sleeping compartment without having to duck); a 48-inch flat top sleeper; and a day cab.
Big and bold, with strong shoulders, large square headlights and a muscular grille (“it screams Mack Trucks,” Walsh says), the Anthem is nonetheless aerodynamic, delivering a 3% improvement in fuel efficiency compared with the Pinnacle Axle Back model it replaces. When factoring in powertrain improvements, the fuel efficiency gain is about 9%, says Walsh, who notes that fuel efficiency is one of the main purchase considerations by freight haulers and other cost-conscious customers.
Another is uptime. The truck features Mack GuardDog Connect, a telematics service that monitors thousands of vehicle-performance data points and plugs back into the 600-person Mack OneCall uptime center at company headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. The Anthem’s modern interior, including a 5-inch, full-color dashboard screen for improved visibility and more intuitive navigation, was designed based on extensive feedback from drivers—“for drivers, by drivers,” Walsh says.
Amid a severe shortage of drivers, particularly for Class 8 trucks, fleet managers are looking for comfortable, easy-to-operate, dependable, dare we say badass trucks that will attract drivers and keep them happy. “Customers often tell us, ‘We’d buy more trucks if we could find people to drive them,’” Tolbert says.
Mack’s digital marketing efforts not only are bringing more focus to the company’s conversations with drivers, dealers, and customers, Walsh says, but they’re also elevating the marketing discussions in Mack’s boardroom, specifically around return on investment.
“Today, I can see on the digital side what happens with every dollar we spend,” he says. “Then we can A/B test that, decide what’s the best way to have a conversation with a customer to move them through the sales funnel. That’s the journey we’re on, and we’re well down that road. It’s super exciting.”
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